About the Author: Siddharth Kumar Sah, a student of BITS Pilani KK Birla, Goa, shares how he secured an internship at Dr. Khademhosseini Lab at MIT.
Since my third year of college, I was inclined towards doing a research-based internship as I wanted to get my hands dirty on scientific work and learn how different things are built. So, I did what anyone would do in this situation – Google search! There were hundreds of websites and thousands of internships, and this paradox of choice confused me. The search turned out to be unproductive as I couldn’t understand which internship profile would suit my interests and which research institute I should go for. While browsing the web cluelessly, I came across Internshala, and the one thing that attracted me to it was the way internships were listed on the platform.
After my initial search on Internshala, I found an internship at IIT Bombay in the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering. They were working on Lab-on-Chip and had collaborations with a few research labs overseas. This piqued my interest in the field, and I did a thorough research on it. Over a period of 4 months, I read several research papers and got a much clearer understanding of the subject. After months of research, I finally came across a topic which resonated with my interest in mechanical design and my knowledge of CAD, 3D printing, and bioinks.
For the entire semester, I learnt more about the domain and kept looking for internship opportunities simultaneously. I applied to more than 100 labs and got around 10 confirmations. Out of all these confirmations, the internship at Khademhosseini Lab, a joint lab of Harvard University, MIT, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, was the most exciting. I had been following Dr. Ali Khademhosseini’s work for a long time, and now I had the chance to work alongside him. I applied at the Khademhosseini Lab via an email in which I wrote about my knowledge and interest in Dr. Khademhosseini’s work. The selection procedure for an internship at the lab was quite tedious. I submitted a statement of purpose followed by two interview rounds and a few written rounds. I was asked a lot of questions during the interview related to mechanical engineering and design; I was given a problem statement wherein I had to devise a mechanism for figuring out the stalling torque of a DC and stepper motor at any given RPM within a minute. I was also asked why I had done projects in so many varied domains. The week following the final interview made me restless because such institutions received thousands of applications from all across the globe. After waiting for 10 days, I received an email which read, ‘Welcome to Khademhosseini Lab, Siddharth’. My joy knew no bounds; all the hard work had finally paid off! I was going to Harvard and MIT for my thesis!
The visa, accommodation, and paperwork process started. I had to get insurances, bank account statements, complete health checkup, and vaccinations along with other things asked of by the lab. I was given a coordinator by the lab who helped me with all the process. The visa interview was done and before I knew it, I had the visa of the United States in my hands. My first day at work was like a dream. Walking in MIT, admiring the view, and finally, reaching the lab; for a moment, I had to assure myself that it was actually happening. I was handed a lab notebook, lab coat, learner’s batch, travel card, an ID card, and a Harvard card. This was followed by a brief introduction to Dr. Ali Khademhosseini and the teams; everyone in the lab was very welcoming. I was given a week’s time to choose which subgroup I wanted to be associated with. After speaking to all the employees, I took an informed decision to join Dr. Shrike’s subgroup as it best suited my interests. I was responsible for mechanical design and rapid prototyping and developed four different projects viz. an inexpensive handheld 3D Bioprinter for treating spinal injuries, a Rapid Multi-Material Bio 3D printer device (RMB), using scanning projection stereolithography DMD, a compressed sensing-based image reconstruction in 3D micro-imaging tool, and a 3D printed Expansion Mini Microscopy (ExMM) platform for a low-cost diagnostic kit for detecting Malaria. Dr. Shrike was a great leader and guided me throughout my internship. I learnt great etiquette and protocol of research there. During my internship, I also participated in several hackathons at Harvard Medical School, Boston University, Northeastern University, and MIT.
The lab was famous for its diversity; there were people from all across the world. We had a common area with couches where we shared lunch every day. I preferred cooking my own food rather than going to the MIT Student Centre. We also organised parties every weekend at our apartments, wherein the host would decide the theme. I made great friends and grew my professional network. When I look back, I know my career got a real boost there, and I even improved as a person. The journey that started with a simple search on Internshala ended with me experiencing the work and fun at MIT. I would like to conclude by saying that hard work pays, and it pays you well.
Inspired by Siddharth’s journey at MIT? Are you also looking for a way to follow your passion? Well, the wait is over! Register on Internshala now and take charge of your career!